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The Rachel Maddow Show

News/Business. (2013)

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01:01:00

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Us 16, China 10, U.s. 10, Yemen 9, Ap 8, Quantico 7, Angie 6, Obama 5, The Irs 5, Irs 5, Richard Engel 5, Aaron Schwartz 4, Nbc 4, United States 4, Texas 4, Fbi 3, Michele Bachmann 3, Chengdu 3, Idaho 3, Paul Ryan 2,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2013)  

    May 16, 2013
    9:00 - 10:01pm PDT  

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far up this went. so far, my judgment from what we have seen so far is this was a product of the bureaucracy, not a top-down-order to go after it. >> certainly doesn't seem so. >> thank you. that is all in for this evening. the rachel maddow show starts now. on the button, good evening, rachel. >> well done. we should do it like the bbc where you hit the chime at the top of the hour. set your watch. now i blew it. thank you for joining us this hour. today our nation got a new secretary of energy. it was a unanimous vote in the senate. 97-0 for dr. ernest moniz. the extra bonus with him is the will be available to the nation if we find ourselves in need of a secretary with amagz hair that looks like the french novelist george sand. he can fill in a pinch there if we need. that two more cabinet nominees, secretary of labor, epa administrator also made it to the full senate today.
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they havent been voted on in the full senate and there's a possibility that republicans will filibuster the nominations on the senate floor but the nominations made it to the senate floor. today in idaho authorities arrested a man from uzbekistan on terrorism charges. he will be in federal court tomorrow. we'll learn more then. the indictment alleges that he possessed an unregistered explosive device, that he was distributing information about explosives, bombs and weapons of mass destruction. we will have more on that when we know more. but the arrest happened in idaho today. and the court hearing is due in federal court in idaho tomorrow. major bomb attack on american forces in kabul, afghanistan today. two u.s. military vehicles were blown up by a road side bomb. 16 people were killed, including six americans. on capitol hill today there were hearings whether the authorization to use military force that we enacted after 9/11 and still in force today questions whether it should be
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in force forever. essentially giving whoever the american president is the ability to wage war on his own without congress indefinitely in to the future. what could possibly go wrong? in maryland, 2016 presidential hopeful and current maryland democratic governor martin o'malley signed in gun laws for his state including a ban on high capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons. they say they will try to sue to block that new law but he signed it today and there's more that happened. this is a very granular nitty-gritty day of news today. there was also some new provocative details on the west texas fertilizer plant explosion and new details on the russian spy arrest. we will have all of that coming up this hour. richard engel is here live as well. that is all to come. we are starting in sich juan province, in china. this is a map of china. sichuan province is here.
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in 2008 there was an absolutely massive earthquake in sichuan province. whole villages flattened. the death toll was 70,000 people killed in a single quake. that was five years ago this week. it happened not far outside of the capital city. the earthquake was 50 miles north of the capital sthachl quake was twachlt then last month, it happened again. same fault line, at least we think it was the same fault line in the same region. the quake was within 100 miles, in the other direction of the city you see marked on the map. while the most recent quake was not as devastating a as the one that killed tens of thousands of people it was a big quake and killed 170 people. this is not only an active earthquake region in sichuan province but a place where recent quakes have been not just large but deadly. and if you live in chendu,
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having just lived through the big quakes where a lot of people died and seeing what quakes in the region can could, how would you feel about the news a petro company was planning to build on the fault line, a massive, mega petro chemical plant. pro-dugs ten million tons of oil and 8 million tons of ath leoff lean a year. how would you feel about the news that the state run petro china company was planning to build on that same faultline a massive mega petro connection cal plant producing 10 million tons of oil and more than 800,000 tons of ethylene per year. people who survived the sichuan province earthquakes over the past five years are understand pli a little bit unnerved by this prospect. they're going to build on faultline. we know at least some people in sichuan province are disturbed by this prospect because at least some of them have tried to protest this planned petrochemical plant. they tried online to organize a protest for last saturday in chengdu but the security services kept censoring everything that people had posted about it online. when the protest date rolled
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around, may 4th, the police called a surprise earthquake drill for chengdu. according to a report from the associated press, police flooded the streets of the cap it will. thousands of police for the earthquake drill. exactly where an when that protest was supposed to take place. then three days after that last tuesday, somebody -- we do not know who but we know that it is a woman, we know she lives in chengdu and is in her late 20s. an anonymous person with the initials b.y. we did find that she found a place to savely post on-line her protest. her worries. her complaint about this chemical plant and her request that, please, given the environmental risk of this plant, please, couldn't this decision be subject to some sort of environmental monitoring or evaluation? and you can see her protest here, her complaint, her worry is posted here in english but it is kind of broken english. like at the end it says thank -- instead of saying thank you. but the one safe place this one young woman found to post this grievance, this call of protest and plea for help, the one place she found on-line she felt safe to post it is the website of the
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white house. it's on the petitions part of the white house site, the we, the people, part of the site. anybody can post on any number of subject and if it gets enough signatures the white house will respond. it's strange but moving that somebody even in another country looks to our country, our government as a place where they can be safe airing grievances and safely protest, even if they can't protest safely at home. what is scary about this is the young woman who posted the petition at the white house last tuesday never posted her name or any identifying information, just under her initials anonymously. by the end of the week, in china, the internal security police were knocking on her door. imagine how scary that must be. how did they find me, right? when police knocked on her door, she posted on the chinese version of twitter, i will be out to have some tea. if i should not return in two
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hours, please report me as missing. associated press article about her noting today saying i'm going to have some tea is a widely understood euphemism in china of i'm going to talk to the police and if i am not home in two hours report me missing she was afraid she was never going to come home. she did come home and is safe and brave enough to do an interview with the ap by instant message of what happened to her after she posted it on the website. that's brave. she knows the police know who she is. they already found her in person and questioned her. and she's still willing to talk to the press about what happened. the white house didn't turn her in to the chinese police. maybe you believe there is a great conspiracy here but the white house says we don't collect information on who posts things at the white house website and didn't hand over the information to anyone, especially the chinese government but the chinese police were able to figure it out.
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when the ap reporter called the chinese police to get a comment on what they did, wouldn't you know it, turns out that part of the police has an unlisted phone number. that part of the police they do not talk to the press. this is not the first grievance from china that has ended up getting posted at our white house website. there is a petition that has a ton of signatures about an unsolved crime which a chinese student was murdered. and another petro chemical plant built in similar circumstances in another province. actually a street demonstration about that today in china. whatever you think of the individual grievances that chinese people are airing through our government, through our white house website, through what we take as almost an on-line gimmick, it is kind of a bracing reminder that this is a really important part of what we have to offer the world as a nation. i mean, yes, we are a big, rich, powerful country, but we are not the only big, rich, powerful
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country. china is way bigger than us. we may have the biggest economy in the world but china has the fastest-growing big economy in the world. if our brute strength is the thing that we think will set us apart. it is not always going to set us apart and the way we like to think of ourselves the real and best things we have to offer the world it is the stupid name for the on-line gimmick at the white house website. it is not brute strength. it is we the people, our open government, having a government, having a structure in this big powerful country of ours where we get to air our grievances and seek redress of our grievances. that really is the best thing that we have to offer. that's the best thing about us. the defining thing of us. the reason that no other big, endurg country has that in the same way that we do is it is hard to keep, especially over time. there is every incentive and pressure in the world for whoever holds power to stop other people who are less power from bug them, complaining about them and exposing what they are
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doing wrong and demonstrating against them and making counterarguments against their arguments and making fun of them. people in power want to use the power they have to stop other people from bugging them. universally, across time and personality, geography and culture. and that's why it is so important that our protections against that, our constitutional protections that keep our government open, that keep our system free, that keep our press free, our constitutional protections that protect those things are so blunt and so obvious and so inarguable. it is the clearest thing about us, right? representative democracy and free speech. that's pretty much what it boils down to. president obama said today that that is the whole reason he got involved in politics in the first place. >> we also live in a democracy where a free press free expression and the open flow of
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information helps hold me accountable, helps hold our government accountable and helps our democracy function. and, you know, the whole reason i got involved in politics is because i believe so deeply in that democracy and that process. >> obama speaking today. he's right about his own articulated history. he's been making the case about the importance of our open government from the very beginning. it was certainly a big part of why the ran for president. >> i'll make our government open and transparent. so that anyone can ensure that our business is the people's business. justice brandeis once said, sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. >> that's part of why we had so much trouble is we haven't invited the american people to participate in the process. that's why i always focus on accountability and transparency in our government. >> that is how he ran for
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president. and president obama harkined back to that today when he got asked at this press conference today about the fact that his justice department, on its own volition without going to a court monitored the phone records for two months from the associated press d.c., new york, washington, hartford, bureau and personal cell phones of ap reporters and editors. so anyone who was holding the government accountable. if any reporter called you as a source from any of those places over that two-month period the government has your number and knows you have been talking to the press anonymously. the ap may have told you they can protect your anonymity and get your story out without getting you known by the go. turns out they can't make that press. the government stepped in without asking a judge and took the knife to the ability of the the associated press to do its work now and in the future, indefinite limit they took a knife to the ap's ability to do
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journalism. any ap reporters who work in those bureaus can write down any official story of what any official tells them is the approved truth to know about what the government is doing but if anyone wants to speak unofficially of what the government is doing that in an important way is now gone for that part of our press. and the president today in talking about how much he loves open government and transparency and how important it is to him and always has been he said it in the context of calling for a media shield law to protect reporters from this kind of reach from the go. >> a, some of the harm's already done. b, who knows if we will get a shield law. it is good that he is going for it. it is important to note a president obama is not apologizing for what the justice department did to the ap. for reasons he feels comfortable with the president has been aggressive in dealing with leaks, people inside the government talking to the media and going after those leakers
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he's been willing to ride rough shot over what the media does. we will talk about the leak in question with richard engel later in the show tonight. maybe the shield law will offer protections against this kind of thing. the other way to protect this important thing about ourselves as a country and who we consider ourselves to be as a country, the other way to protect our gold standard free press is to not just depend on the government to do it. to do it ourselves, to take care of it ourselves to protect the freedom of our press ourself thaens is happening in a way that is edgy, diy and live as of yesterday. the basic idea is what if there was a way for sources to talk to the press without possibility of there being found out for doing that? from the government's perspective the dangerous side of that is it makes leakers hard to catch. the beneficial side of that is while investigating leakers, the government will not be able to
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tramp all over priest press freedom. it protects leaker thaens power of the press to do its work. the new way for sources to talk to the pret press was created by aaron schwartz. he was a computer programmer and on-line activists and developed some of the most basic ways we use the internet today and developed readit. his mission was to give the general public access to as much information for free as humanly possible. his pursuit of that mission ended in tragedy. in 2011, he was arrested at m.i.t. for mass downloading academic journals off the school's server with intent to make them available to anyone who wanted them. the federal government decided to throw the book at him. he was facing 35 years in prison. before he could be draul brought to trial he killed himself. this past january he was found dead in his brooklyn apartment. a couple of years before all of that, aaron schwartz started to
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code a system for ways to send information to the press with anonymity. not even reporters on the other side know where the information came from. and if the government leans on those reporters they can't tell you who the sources are because they don't know. he worked on it at the request of editor of wire who got frustrated from the system. and it allows anyone in complete secret, apparently, to upload data like files, photos or documents to somebody on the other end. you get a secret account and the receiver can try to write you back and if you chooez choose to log back in with your top secret name you can get the return message. you reveal more about what you sent or if you don't feel safe to do that, go away and don't open the return message and no one will know your identity. that's the idea. anyone can get the system itself. it is open source, do it yourself. as of yesterday, this amazing thing, built by aaron schwartz in the last years of his life it is live and operating at the
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website of the new yorker magazine. joining us is the editor of the new yorker's magazine. nick thompson. good to have you here. >> pleasure to be here. >> i'm a user of the on-line machine but not an expert and i bet i didn't explain it exactly right. how does the strongbox idea work? and did i screw any of it up? >> you set it up perfectly. it begins with a system that keeps your computer address safe. if i hand you a package, in between i break up the package and give it to 100 people in between. once you have logged in no one can identify the computer it comes from. the person logs in to tor and the file is encrypted and then it is passed through our servers to us. it is still encrypted. we take it off a machine on to a flash drive and then to another computer that is not connected to the internet and doesn't have a hard drive and we decrypt it. the whole time, from when it passes to you to me there's no way to trace where it came from. it is encrypted and by the time
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somebody at the new yorker looks at the file they are looking at a computer that is not connected to the internet or have a hard drive. there is an air break between the machine and you. >> in reading the fine print on what is posted on-line right now, it is marketed as an as-is product. there are no guarantees and can't be sure that anonymity is protected. other people have tried to build things like this in the past but they have been hackable. >> there have been. one thing we did is to start with tor. it gives a lot of extra protection. it makes it harder to use. it is relatively doiflt use the system but we think people will be able to do it. maybe somebody will crack it. i hope. no aaron schwartz was a fantastic coder. we had smart people trying to break it. we feel confident in it. so we'll see.
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>> one thing i think about in terms of leaks and i thought of this in wikileaks and the scandal and controversy there. when you get anonymously leaked information, as a reporter, as somebody trying to decide the news value of that it is important to know where it came from. in part so you know if somebody has an ax to grind. if they are the person capable by circumstance or experience of faking that information to you. it's hard to verify leaked information with no ability to trace back even confidentially are you worried that new yorker journalists using this material are themselves a little compromised? >> absolutely. it makes the process of creating a long story more complicated if you have information that you have no idea where it came from and no possibility of finding out where it came from. we can put a message on a bulletin board and person will maybe go and see the message and maybe write back but we may just have it and then it is a hard editorial choice. we will do our best to verify
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it. if we can't we have a bunch of other choices to make. people mail us stuff and have send us information anonymously before. it creates different problems but we will figure them out. >> do you expect this will be something used by a lot of different types of journalists or nonjournalistic communication. anyone can use it at your website. >> anyone can use it at our website. i thought it was going to be sending documents but then an editor said it would be good way to communicate with a writer when they are working in syria and get information back and forth. the code is open source. other people will build their version of it. if the white house wants to build it so people in china can upload information in a more secure way, than great. we will see where this goes. i hope we will get a lot of great stories out of this in the next few years. >> nicholas thompson, new yorker.com editor. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. on the china stoirk as the chinese and american press fold up on that petition from that
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chinese activist posted at the white house website, the white house's response was, yes, the white house, we the people petition is not only something that we will not help the chinese police find anyone through but it is open source and we are happy to provide this code, this means of communicating on-line to anyone who wants it. it is open-source world even if it makes us -- sorry, i have gas. but you relieve gas, no? not me... that's his job. true. i relieve gas fast. [ male announcer ] gas-x is designed to relieve gas. gas-x, the gas xpert.
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the tea party movement has been falsely aligned from its inbig iovernment. >> makes me feel like i'm 38 again. congresswoman michele bachmann still exists. it turns out and was back front and center leading a tea party rally again on the steps of the capitol. oh, old times. after dissolving into the things like the michele bachmann for president campaign and other things that didn't turn out to much, the tea party movement now wants to be back on the wings of the irs scandal that they an other conservative groups got singled out for extra scrutiny in their applications to the irs for tax exempt status. that's a thing that they naturally think is terrible and not at all the kind of thing that the irs should be doing. awkwardness of the politics here is that everybody agrees with them on this, including their nemesis, president obama himself. president obama last night demanded and received the red rsignation of the acting commissioner of the irs today, a second top irs official was
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shoved into an early retirement. the second head to roll was the commissioner of the agency's tax exemption division. president obama has now appointed a new interim irs commissioner and it is likely that the new commissioner's job will at least for a while be taken up with responding to the gazillion new investigations that the irs has now being subjected to. department of justice is investigating along with the fbi. the senate is investigating. the house is investigating. and that all follows the initial inspector general investigation. all looking into the improper scrutiny that the irs allegedly gave and seems to are given to conservative groups who were applying for tax exempt status. here is something to watch though. that's not about that issue of extra scrutiny and therefore extra delays for the conservative group singled out on the basis of their apparent ideology. here is the thing to watch other than that. late last year the same irs office in cincinnati handling applications from these types of groups, the same office that did the tea party key word targeting, last year that same office also released tax
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documents about a bunch of political groups to a news gathering operation called pro publica, an independent non-profit newsroom that specializes in investigative reporting. last year they were working on a series of articles on the relationship between tax exempt status and these supposed social welfare non-profits that are just political groups. in the court of that investigator work pro publica went to the source, they went to the irs' office in cincinnati which was responsible for reviewing applications from those kind of groups, and they asked that irs office for the applications from a whole bunch of these group. they asked for the applications from 67 different non-profit groups. for what it is worth, this was all after the presidential election. these requests came in november 15th. but a couple of weeks after they put in the request the irs responded and the irs did not give pro publica the documentation for all of those 67 groups they asked for but they did hand over files from 31 of the groups.
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nine of those 31 applications had not yet been approve by the irs. and if the application has not been approved, it's supposed to be secret. the irs is not supposed to release that information to anyone until the application has gone through the whole process and been approved. if it is still pending it is supposed to be private but the irs sent it out anyway which is bad. maybe it is an oops, but even if it is an oops, it is bad. even getting those nine unapproved applications, pro publica was like, hey, we're not supposed to have these! they got in touch with the irs and said, essentially, hey, why did you send these to us? aren't you not supposed to do that? these are unapproved applications. the irs responded oh, you're right, we shouldn't have done that. we know all of this because pro publica posted a detailed article about it tonight if you want to collection it out. the irs told pro publica not only should they not have sent those applications but there is actually a law against releasing unauthorized returns.
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there is a law against exactly what the irs had itself just done. they went on to sort of threateningly tell pro publica this was a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprison of up to five years or both as if it was their fault. they know they got the documents from the irs they weren't supposed to have but the irs is the one who screwed up. they sent those documents illegally to reporters. this is a problem. what we don't know is the bungled handling of those documents connected to the bigger scandal, the irs screwed up. but don't let that distract you from the fact there really was an actual screw-up here.
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nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is here with us live tonight in just a moment. that means two things. two good things.
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when u.s. forces found the head of al qaeda in iraq in 2006 they reportedly found him by following the man they knew to be his spiritual advisor when his spiritual advisor paid him a visit. when u.s. forces found osama bin laden they reportedly found him by figuring out who was working as a currier for bin laden, then following the currier to bin laden's house. when u.s. forces found anwar al awlaki in yemen we reportedly first tried to find him by putting a tracking device on the luggage of his new wife. story's kind of amazing. it is detailed in jeremy scahill's new book, "dirty wars." the luggage idea didn't work out and they found him by some other means. the means by which they've found their most wanted al qaeda targets are varied. they all differ case by case. as far as we have been allowed to know the process of fining these senior al qaeda guys and tracking them down has almost never been by use of double
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agents. after all these years, after all these famous cases you don't really hear very much about the west sneaking somebody inside al qaeda so that al qaeda thinks the guy is a fellow terrorist but really he's a spy. that has not been the way that war on al qaeda has worked in terms of the top level killings. mostly that's not the way it's worked -- except it did work that way apparently with this guy. he's from the al qaeda group in yemen. this time last year he was killed by a drone trike in yemen after stepping out of his vehicle. that drone reportedly knew where to find him because of a double agent, because there had been somebody on the inside of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula in yemen who al qaeda thought was one of them but was actual lay spy working for the west. not apparently for the cia but for noern western intelligence service. the reason that we know that is why the records from 20 phone lines and associated press bureaus in d.c. and new york and hartford and congress and all
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these reporters' personal phones and everything all ended up in the hands of the justice department even though we supposedly have a free press in this country. and reporters are supposed to be able to talk to people without the government spying on them while they work. when it was reported a year ago that a plot to blow up a u.s.-bound plane had been thwarted in yemen with be one of the details that the ap reported at the time was that the actual bomb from that plot not only hadn't been detonated on that plane, but the actual bomb had ended up in american hands. it was at the fbi bomb lab at quantico. being analyzed. juicy detail. right? hey, wait a minute, how did we get the bomb? it was that detail that led to the ultimate story that this bomb plot had not just been caught at the gate by an extra good pat-down or something. the bomb plot had been foiled by a double agent, somebody on the inside of that al qaeda group who al qaeda thought was one of them but who was a western spy who got a hold of the bomb and turned it over in such a way that it ultimately ended up at
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the fbi's lab and whose intel reportedly led to the drone strike that killed this al qaeda heavy a couple of days later. the obama administration taking the phone records of all those phone lines at the ap is not to get at the ap. the wrecking ball that the seizure of those records takes to the ap as a news agency in this case is collateral damage. what the justice department is actually trying to find is not anything interesting about the reporters themselves. what the justice department is trying to find is who in government told the press that that bomb was sitting at the fbi bomb lab in quantico. that's what this whole thing is about. joining us to tell me if i have's got that right and what this means is richard engel, nbc chief foreign correspondent. richard, thank you. >> it is good to be here. it is a very complicated story but did you get it right and it goes back to have investigation. if i'll peel it back a little bit. you talked about the foreign government getting an informant inside of al qaeda.
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that is very rare. al qaeda generally doesn't trust outsiders. it doesn't -- it is not the kind of organization you can just show up and join. they know each other. a lot of al qaeda members are related. the uk in this case, british intelligence, gets an informant inside an al qaeda cell in yemen. that's a great accomplishment for them. and an accomplishment, by the way, which should remain secret. we'll get to that in a second. they get the informant inside. informant gets in contact with a bomb and is told that this bomb is going to be used on a flight from the uk to the united states. the informant, like a good informant, informs his handlers. the handlers, since the u.s. involved, inform the united states. that's all being carried out in secret, as you would expect it. the united states, learning that there is this threat of a bomb
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going to be put on a plane from the uk to the united states, alerts security officials. air marshals, tsa, people who would be concerned about transportation in the air. >> we try to harden ourselves as a target. oh, jeez, an attack is coming. >> we do that, and that you can't hide. and when increased security measures are taken and orders are given out publicly, not classified orders, to increase surveillance of air marshals and things like that, that's when reporters start digging. what's going on, why are there suddenly all these extra alerts. the ap started digging. we started digging. lots of people started digging. people got different parts of this story. was there a bomb plot? did it go back to yemen? yes, it did. the ap got this piece that not only was there a bomb plot but the bomb was already in u.s. hands. it was at the lab in quantico. an ap ran with that story and
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when it did people started freaking out in the administration. how did they get this, what did they know. there was a briefing given by brennan. >> john brennan, now head of the cia. >> he was. someone who knows about yemen, counterterrorism. he went out to try to also calm some public opinion. he said, look, yes, there was this plot but the bomb has always been in our possession. it was always under our control was the specific word, which means that there was never a threat that this bomb that was being made in yemen was going to blow up an aircraft. that the u.s. or u.s. friends -- because what was under our control, it wasn't under our control. it was under the uk's control but since we're all friends in this, the u.s. and uk, it was under friendly control. >> so him saying -- i think inside control. inside control, our control, putting that together with the detail we've got the bomb in our possession.
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there's not a big leap to think there's got to be a mole. >> the bomb was made. it didn't get on to any plane. it ended up in the quantico lab and you have a senior u.s. official saying it was always urn our control. lots of people reporting, well, the cia has someone inside al qaeda in the iranian peninsula and that was yet another blow and i think why this became such a big deal. and there is a big deal here. >> talk about exposing something like this and why that is so dangerous. >> i don't think the ap reporting, it reported something that's kind of two steps removed. it reported there was this bomb that was found and it is in a lab in quantico. that's not exposing the name of the informant or that there is an informant. it led to a sequence of events
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that did reveal that information, but revealing the name of an informant in al qaeda is a death sentence for him, his family. it has dangers for americans, because -- for anyone really. let's say al qaeda learns that it has an informant among it. the group could harden its security. you can lose information. it could decide to change the timing of an attack. speed up an attack. if you think someone is watching you and someone is on to you, you've got a bomb, do it now before the authorities have a chance to catch up. so there is real consequences -- >> and the ap didn't disclose that but they disclosed something that led to that. >> something that led to that. >> there can't be that many people in government who knew that bomb was sitting in quantico, but whoever knew that who talked about it to to the press is what they're trying to find. >> it is not the ap. they want to know who told. so the investigators started to look at quantico. did someone there pass this information on? as far as i know, it wasn't
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somebody there. they started to look at airport, tsa, and air marshal officials. did they have information since that was part of the chronology? as far as i understand, the investigation is still going on, and they want to know who told the ap that initial piece of information that ultimately exposed a very valuable -- the fact that a very valuable source was planted in al qaeda >> and the investigation ultimately. because it ends up tapping all those -- getting the records from all those ap and phone lines. ends up doing huge damage to the ap as an organization as just one of the many consequences of this. very dramatic story. richard engel, nbc's chief foreign correspondent. thank you for being both physically here. >> won't be for long. i'm on my way out of the country soon. >> of course. i'm going to put a tracker on you myself. we'll be right back. ♪
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it's been kind after busy week. last friday, amidst other news, we reported an update about the west texas fertilizing plant explosion that was an enormous disaster. it killed 15 people and injured hundreds of people last month. more than 90-foot crater after the giant explosion in texas. texas law enforcement officials, we reported as of friday, had
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launched a criminal investigation in to what caused that explosion. and then, dramatically within a couple of hours of them launching that criminal investigation, we also learned there had been an arrest. voluntary paramedic was one of the first responders on the scene of the explosion had been arrested. he was charged with possession of a destructive device. specifically materials that could be used to construct a pipe bomb. obviously, the confluence of these two stories happened within a couple of hours of each other is a provocative thing. law enforcement raising the possibility of a criminal act being responsible for setting off the explosion and law enforcement arresting somebody who responded to the explosion arresting them on charges related to an explosive device. obviously we do not know if there is a more of a relationship between those two stories other than the fact they both have to do with west texas. now we have more information and it is really interesting.
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law enforcement officials told nbc news that thus far the atf has not found any evidence that it was a bomb that set off last month's deadly explosion in texas. today state and federal investigators said they would not speculate whether the paramedic charged with possession of a the pipe bomb when wl it has a connection to the explosion. but officials made some specific announcements. they said they completed their investigation at the site of the explosion, even as the broader investigation continues. and the texas fire marshal, chris -- announced the cause is considered to be undetermined. here's the interesting specific details part of it. state fire marshals office and the atf said they are eliminating these following causes of what may have set off the explosion. it was not a rekindling of an earlier fire, spontaneous
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ignition, anything related to the 480-volt electrical system, which is one of the two systems in the plant. and it was not set off by anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, someone smoking or related to the weather but officials have not ruled out the following causes. they say it is possible as yet that something went wrong with the other electrical system in the plant which was a 120-volt system and it is possible, they have not ruled out that part of the problem was a golf cart that was stored in the seed room at the plant. officials say golf cart batteries have a history of causing explosions but they have not recovered enough pieces to eliminate it or damn it has a potential cause. they have not ruled out the possibility that the fire was set on purpose. so the investigation is ongoing and ongoing and open. the paramedic plead not guilty and says he has nothing to do with it.
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♪ chart immitates life. there was a time in the 2012 presidential election season when republicans tried to make the major issue of the presidential campaign the defining issue of the campaign the fact that president obama had not been able to cut the deficit in half in his first term. remember the big debt clock running at the rnc, right? the president had said it was the goal of his first term to cut the deficit in half, and he did shrink the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars but he did not cut it in half, which he had said he would try to do. and that issue arguably is the major reason the republicans picked paul ryan to be their vice presidential nominee in 2012. they wanted to keep the heat on
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this deficit issue, right? paul ryan was the deficit guy in the deficit argument. the deficit was too big. one of their main arguments against re-electing president obama. we just received the new estimate of what the deficit will be by the end of the year. this is what the deficit had been up through last year, so 2009, that's president obama's first year, 2011, 2012, show the next year. this is what they had projected the deficit would be by the end of this year, but now that estimate has been revised. they have revised the projected deficit for this year and as of now, this is what the new deficit -- we have that slide whistle and we never used it before, are you kidding me? the opportunity costs. as of now this is the estimate of what the new deficit will be by the end of the year. that means the deficit has shrunk by $800 billion since president obama has been in office. this is the fastest deficit reduction we have had as a
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country since world war ii. honestly, that's kind of terrible. it's kind of terrible to the extent we are working on this stupid deficit issue, spending less instead of more to put people back to work. this is the thing the new york times crunched the numbers on in the big, devastating front-page article. they found if we were not doing what we had been doing to reduce the deficit we would have 1.5 million more jobs in the country. economically reducing the deficit this much, this is not at all what we need as a country but it is what the republicans said would be their highest priority if they got control of the white house. it was the thing they said they most wanted president obama to do. the thing they lam basted him for not doing. think they will give him credit for doing it? we will see you tomorrow night where we will have an important
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wig-related story about a russian spy that nobody else has reported. it's going to be really good. now it is time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. have a great night. my first guest, white house press secretary, jay carney. >> yesterday, press secretary jay carney. >> i'm here today to take questions. >> stood and let the wind and rain pummel him for our entertainment purposes. >> one more on the irs. is the president concerned? >> you said the -- >> about the allegations. >> allegations of what, sorry? >> should those officials be punished? >> i appreciate the effort to generalize the -- >> what stopped the president from picking up a phone? >> does it involve multiple months? >> is the president at all concerned? >> thank you for that question. >> on benghazi, are you willing to release the e-mails? >> what role did the white house play? >> i've answered this question several times. i'm happy to answer it again, if you let me.